1 Corinthians 13:4-7 in 5 Simple Steps
A lot of us know that Bible memory is something we should be doing, but practically, it’s hard to make time to work on this spiritual discipline.
We know that the Bible commends those who store up Scripture in their hearts. And we know that the practice helps to guard us against sin and fill our minds with heavenly, fruitful thoughts.
We’re told that in verses like these:
“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” – Colossians 3:2 (ESV)
“How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. … I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” – Psalm 119:9, 11
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” – Hebrews 4:12
And we know all that. But let’s face it: Making Bible memory a habit is not easy.
Have you fallen out of habit? Maybe you feel a bit of guilt reading about why Bible memory is important. I’ve struggled as much as anyone with keeping this practice, so I feel your pain!
To help you out, I want to share something I’ve been trying.
For the past couple months, I have been doing Bible memory with two of my little sisters. And I love it!
- It helps me to take initiative. I know that Bible memory time is good for them too, so I take the first step and make sure it happens.
- I learn faster when I’m teaching.
- As I pause to explain the bigger words, that helps me to soak in the meaning of the verse.
- If I’m trying to make Bible memory fun for someone else, that makes it fun for me.
- And doing anything with my little sisters is a lot of fun anyway.
If you grew up going to church (or are growing up going to church), I’m sure you can think of someone who helped you get started with Bible memory. Doing Bible memory in Sunday school is great! When your mind is younger, you soak things in quickly.
Now that you’re older, consider finding a little soul or two and helping them in the same way. Doing Bible memory with a friend is fun and mutually beneficial.
One thing I did to make it fun when we started in December is choose a Christmas-themed verse. What little girl doesn’t want to do Bible memory if it’s a Christmas verse? We went with Isaiah 9:6, and I talked to them a bit about prophecy.
Now that Christmas is over, we’re going to memorize a passage for Valentine’s Day. Another great thing about this seasonal strategy is we have a deadline. And the girls had fun drawing hearts all over 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
If you’d like to memorize this over the course of February, you should have plenty of time to nail it.
I’m going with the English Standard Version by default (and because it’s awesome) but you may want to check out other translations for something more classic or catchy.
Want to join me in memorizing this passage with a little one or two in your life? Here are five simple steps to make the most of your Bible memory time.
#1: Memorize one chunk at a time.
With any slightly longer or intimidating passage, it is best to divide it up into chunks. In the case of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, there are eight main chunks:
- Love is patient and kind;
- love does not envy or boast;
- it is not arrogant or rude.
- It does not insist on its own way;
- it is not irritable or resentful;
- It does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
- Love bears all things, believes all things,
- hopes all things, endures all things.
You may choose to split it up differently than me, but you get the point. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
#2: Explain each big word as you go, using stories to illustrate.
There’s not much point in a little soul memorizing a Bible verse they can’t understand. And as I mentioned before, helping them to understand helps you to understand it more deeply too!
Pause to explain new words to the child. If the child already knows the word, ask him/her what it means.
Even if your memory partner is on the older side, I still recommend discussing the words. Sometimes it’s easy to assume we know what a verse means, and let it fly in one ear and out the other. But by taking a closer look, we can better understand the significance of each word and how to apply its truth to our own lives.
Some words are easy to substitute with simpler, more common words. “Envy” means jealous and
“boast” means brag.
Other words are more difficult—“arrogant” means prideful, but what if the little one doesn’t know what pride is? We all know that “kind” means nice, but what does it really mean? How about “insist[ing] on its own way”?
If you want the little ones to remember a word’s meaning, don’t tell them what it is—show them. Stories and illustrations are a great way to do this.
It might be a shorter illustration, like “Envy means wanting something that isn’t yours, or wishing that your life was like someone else’s.” Or it might be a longer one:
“Imagine that Eliana and Keanna go to the store to buy a bucket of ice cream. Eliana asks Keanna what type of ice cream she likes, and Keanna says chocolate. But then Eliana says, ‘Let’s get mint chocolate chip ice cream. That’s what I really want. Can we get mint chocolate chip ice cream? I think we should get mint chocolate chip ice cream.’ Eliana just won’t stop asking that they get her favorite ice cream. Eliana is insisting on her own way.”
If you are explaining a negative attribute, be sure not to villainize your memory partner, but use your own name instead. If it’s a positive attribute you can also bring up a real example of someone you know displaying this attribute. More on that in Step 4.
#3: Talk about how God loves us in this way.
There is SO much packed into this passage to discuss, but don’t forget to talk about how God fits into the picture!
Consider “Love is patient and kind…”
God is patient with us, giving us time to turn to Him. The reason the Second Coming seems to be taking a long time is because God loves and desires our salvation (2 Peter 3:9).
God showed the ultimate kindness to us in sending His Son to die on the cross (John 3:16).
We are not saved by our own works, so don’t interpret 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 as an impossible standard we need to live up to. Jesus paid it all.
#4: Ask if the child can think of any people who demonstrate these positive traits.
“Can you think of anyone who is…?” is a great fill-in-the-blank question to make your Bible memory time more interactive.
If the little one can’t think of an example off the top of his/her head, bring up one yourself, like your neighbor who demonstrated kindness by making your family banana bread.
The examples that you come up with together could be a great jumpstart to find ways you and the little ones can also demonstrate the positive traits in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.
#5: Brainstorm specific ways to love God and others in these ways.
If you want to reap the full benefits of Bible memory, make the truths in Scripture a part of your life!
Ask yourself and your little one…
- “How can we be patient with our siblings?”
- “How can I be kind like Jesus was kind to me?”
- “How can we practice not envying our friends?”
- “How can I boast about God instead of myself?”
Go memorize a Bible passage with a little one in your life. Make it fun. Practice a humble spirit that makes it fun for them.
Discuss it and think it through deeply, and then put it into practice. I promise you won’t regret it.
Psst… I’m working on a booklet to help you memorize Scripture with little ones all year around! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like me to keep you in the loop.